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Highlights Of Albania

From US$ 1,005
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highlights
  • Enjoy wild landscapes, rich culture and outstanding natural beauty in
  • Undiscovered Albania
The Highlights of Albania tour starts and ends in Tirana. The Highlights of Albania is a Cultural Wonders tour that takes 10 days taking you through Tirana, and other destinations in .

Albania is a fascinating, little known Mediterranean country situated just north of mainland Greece with an incredible history set impressively against a wild and rugged landscape. Past civilisations have each left their mark, mainly the Romans and Byzantines, which we see in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Butrint and the famous Berat Fortress, but the real highlight is the warm hospitality received all over this wonderfully undiscovered country.

The tour starts at our hotel in Tirana, Albania’s capital. Those travelling on the group flights will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel (approx. 20 mins.) This afternoon we'll have an orientation tour of the colourful streets of Tirana, which was made the capital of Albania in just 1920. We’ll see the main sites, including the impressive façade of the National History Museum which is adorned with a gigantic mosaic known as, ‘The Albanians’. This is one of the finest examples of late Albanian Socialist Realism in the country, depicting the resilience of the people in their fight against invasion and occupation throughout the centuries, and dominates Skanderbeg Square. The exhibits within the museum give great insight into Albania’s intriguing past and recent history up to the present day. We also visit Et'hem Bey Mosque, one of the oldest buildings in the city. Closed under communist rule, it reopened as a house of worship in 1991 despite opposition from communist authorities. We also explore an area known as Blloku on foot, where villas were once occupied by members of The Politburo (former leading sect of the Party of Labour of Albania) but which is now the lively centre of Tirana’s nightlight where trendy bars, cafés, and fashionable clubs can be found.

Comfortable Hotel
After breakfast we begin our drive to Pogradec (approx. 3 hrs. drive), but en route we make a short stop to visit the fortress of Elbasan. A city influenced by various cultures including Serbs and more importantly Italians, the fortress here dates to the 15th Century and was built by the Romans. The fortifications originally incorporated twenty-six towers equidistantly spaced from each other along the length of a nine meter high wall; today remnants of this can be seen along the southern wall which remains more or less intact. Our final destination for today is one of the most charming resorts in Albania, Pogradec, thanks to its position on beautiful Lake Ohrid with clear waters and mountain views. Keep your eyes peeled for Orhrid trout (known as ‘Koran’ in Albania), a species endemic to Lake Ohrid. We go for a scenic walk at Drilon Park on the far side of the lake, to discover the waterways and ornamental plants and trees that make up this special ecosystem.

Comfortable Hotel
This morning we continue driving for about an hour to reach Voskopoja Village (formerly known as Moskopole) an important and well-known centre of art where many talented Albanian painters chose to practice their profession. The village has suffered over the years, as many of its treasures were stolen during the second half of the 18th Century and this even continued during the World Wars. We take a 40 minute walk to visit one of the oldest churches; a representaive of Voskopoja religious art. Another short drive (approx. 30 mins.) takes us to the largest city of south-eastern Albania, Korçë, which sits at the foot of Moravia Mountain, 800m above sea level. This city became an important trading and handicraft centre in the 18th Century and has also been referred to as ‘the city of museums’, being home to the National Museum of Mediaeval Art and Archaeology, the Museum of Education (where the first Albanian School was opened in 1878), and the new museum of ‘Bratko Collections’ displaying antiquities from the Far East. Our visit to Korçë includes the National Museum of Mediaeval Art and Archaeology, Mirahori Mosque (one of the oldest in the Balkans) and the famous church 'The Resurrection'. Korçë has been an important religious centre for Orthodox Christians. It's also worth trying the famous local beer whilst in Korçë.

Comfortable Hotel
Our drive through the mountains today is truly spectacular as we enjoy sweeping views across the Gramos and Nemercka Mountains. Along the winding route, we enjoy a short stop in Ersekë, which at 1050m is the highest town in Albania. This 17th Century town is surrounded by beautiful green pastures of the Gramos Mountains. Continuing onwards to beautiful Përmet, we make a quick stop-off at the old bridge of Benje village, and the hot springs en route, where we have time to relax and swim. After quite a long day (approx. 5 hrs. drive in total) we arrive into Përmet, situated in the heart of the white mountains on the Vjosë River. This evening you’re sure to be in for a treat as Përmet is famous for its food and wines, including 'gliko' sweets and raki.

Comfortable Hotel
Drive to the beautiful town of Gjirokastër (approx. 2 hrs. drive), calling in at the traditional village of Dhoksat on the way for a home-cooked lunch. In the afternoon we enjoy a guided visit around the famous town of Gjirokastër. Set on a mountain slope, the cobbled streets wind their way between old houses with interesting architectural features including mediaeval towers. The castle stands like a balcony over the town and offers wonderful panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. We visit the ethnographic museum which is the house of Albania's former dictator Enver Hoxha.

Comfortable Hotel
In the morning we have a short journey (approx. 30 mins) to visit the ‘Blue Eye’, an area where seven artesian wells (natural springs) rise. Named after the largest spring, where the water descends to depths of over 50m as it infiltrates the pale-coloured surrounding rock. We then continue to the UNESCO World Hiritage Site of Butrint (approx. 1 hr. drive), a sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the god of medicine, founded in the 4th Century BC. Worshippers came to the sanctuary and left symbolic objects or money for the gods and priests in the belief that they would be healed by the sacred waters. We spend the night in the city of Sarandë, which is a stark contrast to the tranquil towns we have stayed in so far.

Comfortable Hotel
A change of scenery today as we travel through the spectacular Albanian Riviera. We spend time at Porto Palermo Bay and visit Ali Pasha Castle, which was once one of the most important military bases during the cold war. There is a small beach here, suitable for swimming, sunbathing and relaxing in an unspoilt corner of the Mediterranean during the summer months. From Porto Palermo Bay, we wind our way up the coast enjoying views to Corfu and miles of olive trees and pine forests, stopping for lunch on the way to the popular destination of Vlorë, where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in 1912. We arrive in the afternoon and there is time to relax before we explore this vibrant large town. (Total driving time today is approx. 3.5 hrs.)

Comfortable Hotel
We start our journey north today and stop at the wonderful ruins of Apollonia (approx. 1.5 hrs. drive). Originally occupied by the Illyrian tribes and then the Greek colonists from Corfu and Corinth around 600BC, Apollonia flourished in the Roman period and was home to a renowned school of philosophy but began to decline in the 3rd Century AD when its harbour started silting up as a result of an earthquake. We continue inland to the Monastery of Ardenice, built by the Byzantine Emperor in 1282 (approx. 40 mins. drive). The monastery became famous as the national hero of Albania, Gjergj Kastriot (Skanderbeg), married Donika Arianiti here in 1451. Another highlight is the Church of Saint Mary set within the monastery, which reveals frescoes from famous Albanian painters. Finally, we transfer further inland to the beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Berat (approx. 1.5 hr. drive), where we spend a night in the oldest district of the town.

Comfortable Hotel
This morning we enjoy a guided tour around the old district of Berat, with its pretty white buildings perched on the hill amid pine forests. We walk through the narrow cobbled streets to finally reach Berat Castle on the slopes of Mount Tomorr, where we are rewarded with breath-taking views (and begin to understand why it is known to Albanians as 'The City of a Thousand Windows'). Within the castle walls are dwelling houses and the Onufri Museum (Museum of Iconography), which we will visit. From Berat we drive to the port of Durrës (approx. 2 hrs. drive), the second largest city in Albania and famed for housing the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans. The amphitheatre dates back to the 2nd century AD, seats 15,000 people and contains an early Christian crypt with rare wall mosaics. The city was colonised by colonists from Corinth and Korkyra in 627 BC. It was named Epidamnus, which later became Dyrrachium. We then drive to the famous mediaeval citadel of Krujë (approx. 45 mins. drive), where Albania's national hero, Skanderbeg, led the resistance against the Ottomans. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, earning the title "Champion of Christ".

Comfortable Hotel
After breakfast we’ll have a tour of Krujë. We will visit the Skanderbeg Museum, a rich ethnographic museum inside the castle, and enjoy inspirational views out to the Adriatic Coast. We have time to wander through the mediaeval bazaar full of souvenirs and handicrafts. Those travelling on the group flights will be transferred to Tirana airport for your flight back to London (approx. 45 mins. drive).

what’s included
  • All breakfasts and 1 lunch included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
what’s excluded
  • International Flights
  • Any international flights to/from Tirana are not included in this price. We always recommend that you arrive 1 day prior to your tour starting date.
  • Travel Insurance
  • Travel insurance is not included in this Highlights of Albania tour. Travel insurance is mandatory to buy. We recommend purchasing it from World Nomads.
Tour details
Booking Type Instant Booking  
Duration 10 days
Tour Type Group Tour  
Minimum Participants 6 people
Age Requirement + yrs
guiding method Live guide/instructor
guide language English
Meeting/Start Point Tirana
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Get a PDF file with detailed trip information: Download Trip Notes for Highlights of Albania
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Good to know Payment

A deposit of 201 USD is required to confirm this tour. For any departures within 08 February 2018 full payment is required.

Travel Insurance

The Highlights of Albania tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.

Visa

For this Highlights of Albania tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.

Cancellation No additional cancellation fees apply for this Highlights of Albania tour. You can cancel the tour up to 57 days prior departure and avoid paying the full amount, but your deposit paid is non-refundable. No refund applies for cancellations within 56 days of departure.
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